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When this article reaches you, I will be on a short-term mission trip to Central America with nine other young people from my church family. As a church, we believe in both local and global missions, because Jesus told us to ‘go unto all the world and make disciples.” As I mentally and physically prepare for another experience serving and sharing Jesus’ love with another community, I am counting the lessons learned by saying yes to these opportunities.

Loving is easy when you’re not in your regular context

There’s something special about getting out of your regularly scheduled life to focus on loving others. This lets me know that sometimes I have made my life too busy to be aware of opportunities to love “in real life.” I am reminded to slow down.

God is everywhere

I do not have the edge on what living for the Lord looks like, and how He chooses to reveal Himself. When you get to worship, serve, and create communities in places different than what you’re used to, it is a great reminder that God is in places you least expect Him.

Living on mission is a mixture of intentionality and sensitivity

If we don’t make it a priority, caring for others will not often make its way into our lives because caring for others is not always convenient. It often took Jesus out of His way, and we need to expect the same for ourselves. But even in the unplanned moments, are we staying sensitive to when God is giving us a window to shine through in someone else’s life? Do it on purpose, and make sure to stay open to those unexpected moments to serve.

Loving people is work

That is all I have to say about that!

The work of loving people gives life

Some of my favorite moments in life have been the feelings of joy and comradery of a time of hard work for someone else. Those conversations when I was able to encourage, help or share the gospel make life feel at its best.

My neighbor is both next door and across the globe

I love loving the people in the communities in other countries, and it reminds me how easy it can be. I am reminded that showing love to those in close proximity is often a challenge, but is just as valuable as loving those around the globe.

I have enough time to love others if it is a priority

Just like everything else, if it matters, there is time. Some people confess to being too busy to pause to help, serve, or encourage others. But I think there is something incorrect about our pace or priority if helping others doesn’t make the cut, and we may need to make some adjustments.

I am able to do more than I thought I could

I feel so limited by my lack of knowledge, actual skills, etc. During these mission trips, when you are squeezed without the normal resources of our comfort zone, I am surprised by what I am actually able to do. I have poured concrete, bandaged wounds, taught messages in different languages, and worked past exhaustion to help others, none of which would have happened if I didn’t say yes to doing whatever it takes for the mission.

In my failures, God is still making things happen

Because we are often asked to do those things beyond our own abilities, mistakes will be plentiful. I am so reassured, that even if I slip up, if bad attitudes reside, if I say the wrong thing, if I forget things, God does His thing, sometimes even more beautifully than if I got it right.

Serving next to people creates a community on a new level

I have memories with people that I will remember for the rest of my life. We may not always connect in our normal context, but serving in a focused way together brings the Church together.

My prayer for all of us is that we wake up each morning, with the intention of making disciples of those in our world. This may be your children, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers. Making disciples is sometimes slow work, but it literally changes the world. God has called you today, to love someone in a way shows them, Jesus. For some of you, God has placed a big idea, one that is sort of scary, and may be bigger than you. Start working on it! For some of you, God has placed a burden in your heart for a certain situation, or group of people. Find out how to serve them! You are the only you, He made, and He desires to use all of us in this mission.

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Candace Cortez is the Youth Pastor at Koinonia Church. Any comments can be sent to: candace@kchanford.com.

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